Pennsylvania Man Gets 14 Years in Prison for Assault on Police Officers, Longest Jan. 6 Sentence to Date

Pennsylvania Man Gets 14 Years in Prison for Assault on Police Officers, Longest Jan. 6 Sentence to Date
Protesters gather on the west front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

A Pennsylvania man was sentenced to 14 years in jail after being found guilty of felony assault and other charges, including pepper-spraying police officers outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The sentence is the longest prison term to date for anyone involved in the incident.

According to the evidence presented at a trial in federal court last December, Peter J. Schwartz, 49, was at the forefront of a group facing police at the lower west terrace of the Capitol.

Schwartz was convicted based on the evidence obtained, which is said to show him boasting about starting a riot by throwing the first chair.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta sentenced Schwartz to 14 years and two months in prison after prosecutors recommended a sentence of 24.5 years.

Schwartz’s 14-year sentence is followed by three years of supervised release.

According to prosecutors, he subsequently grabbed a police duffle bag, which contained pepper-spray canisters. He then reportedly proceeded to hand them out to others in the group.

The government’s case further states that Schwartz started chasing after police officers, wielding a wooden club, and dousing pepper spray on retreating officers.

His arrest followed in early February in his hometown of Uniontown, Pennsylvania.

Schwartz was convicted alongside two co-defendants, Jeffrey Scott Brown and Markus Maly. The three individuals were the first three convicted at trial of assaulting police officers with pepper spray on Jan. 6.

Brown, of Santa Ana, California, received a 4.5-year prison sentence in April while Maly, of Fincastle, Virginia, is awaiting sentencing.

Schwartz’s wife, Shelly Stallings, was sentenced last month to two years in prison.

Schwartz, who is a welder by trade, was found guilty of four counts of assault with a dangerous weapon. Six additional charges included obstructing an official proceeding, entering a restricted building with a dangerous weapon, and engaging in physical violence in a restricted building.

Schwartz’s prison term exceeds that of the previous longest sentence yet handed down in a case related to the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol.

Former New York City cop Thomas Webster received a 10-year sentence for reportedly assaulting a Washington police officer with a metal flagpole on the same day.

Schwartz’s sentence could soon be surpassed by yet another conviction relating to the Jan. 6 incident. Following a request by the U.S. Justice Department on May 5, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes could be facing 25 years in prison for his conviction on seditious conspiracy and other charges.

The previous day, four members of the activist group ‘Proud Boys’ were convicted by a federal court for seditious conspiracy, defined under a Civil War-era law as a plot to oppose the government with force.

To date, nearly 1,000 people have been charged for alleged involvement on Jan. 6, of which more than 600 individuals have been convicted.

Schwartz’s sentencing was appealed by his lawyers, who asked the court for leniency after stating that Schwartz and his wife traveled to Washington to attend former President Donald Trump’s speech, without any prior intent to incite violence.

Prosecutors said that Schwartz was on probation at the time of the incident and reportedly has 38 convictions since 1991.

According to statements made in court documents by defense attorneys, Schwartz’s actions on Jan. 6 were the result of a misunderstanding regarding the 2020 election.

Schwartz has reportedly made a previous claim that his prosecution is politically motivated.

Prior to his sentencing, Schwartz had told the judge that he is sincerely regretful for the damage that Jan. 6 caused. This, however, was dismissed by the judge.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this article.

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